See Chambers in “The Mentalist” on KCBS Channel 2 Sunday Night at 10
The Santa Clarita Valley is home to many celebrities who work in film, television, radio and other media. Now, AM 1220 KHTS and HometownStation.com launch a new series of interviews, “KHTS Santa Clarita Celebrity Q&A,” as longtime Saugus resident Rick Chambers of KTLA Channel 5 talks with KHTS News.
Along with his TV newscasting duties, the Emmy-winner has appeared in several dramatic TV shows and films, usually as a TV newscaster, and most recently as himself in the political action thriller “Olympus Has Fallen” and in the “Red Letter Day” episode of “The Mentalist” airing on CBS’s Channel 2 in the Los Angeles area Sunday night at 10 (PT).
After graduating from Southern Illinois University and serving in the Air Force, the Chicago-born Chambers paid his TV news dues in his southern Illinois, then Kentucky and Miami. He was wooed to the West Coast by KNBC in Los Angeles in the early ‘90s. His first assignment: covering the riots that followed the verdict in the Rodney King beating case.
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Fast-forwarding to last November, Chambers was the only L.A. TV station reporter to cover the “Teens Tell it Like it Is” drug forum about heroin and other hard drug abuse in the SCV, which drew a packed house at the ACTION Family Zone in Canyon Country.
“I think this is an important story for all the stations to be covering.” Chambers told this reporter then. “I’ve lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for 20 years, I’ve got three kids that have gone through the school system here, they’re all grown now and in their 20s, and I was as shocked as everybody else at how prevalent the problem is. And when they talk about it being an epidemic in this valley, this is probably the last place people most people think of heroin addiction, in Santa Clarita, but it’s here, and it’s not going away, and until people do something about it, it’s going to stick around. So being a part of the solution and helping with KTLA to be a part of the solution, I don’t think there’s any question as to why we’re up here.”
In the days before he visited the KHTS studios, on Friday, April 5, 2013, Chambers had been in the field covering one story about an abducted 10-year-old girl, and another about a missing teen couple thought by authorities to be suicidal.
After an intro, that’s where the Q&A began. Among the revelations along the way: TV was not his first career, and Chambers is not his real last name.
A transcript follows; click here to listen to the podcast and click here to watch the video.
KHTS: And we’re on AM-1220 KHTS with a Santa Clarita Celebrity Q&A. I’m Stephen K. Peeples, KHTS News, and in the studio with us now is a Santa Clarita Valley resident who’s also been a well-known TV news anchor in the Los Angeles market since 1992.
Since late 2011, he’s been with KTLA Channel 5. He’s appeared in several movies and TV episodes, also. And if you can believe his Twitter profile, he’s also a dog-lover, gym rat, reading fanatic, family man, gun-owner and Prius enthusiast – not necessarily in that order, I’m sure. And he helps out with local nonprofits by emceeing events as often as he’s able. His name is Rick Chambers.
Welcome to Hometown Station, Rick.
Chambers: I appreciate it, nice to be here.
KHTS: OK, we’re in the middle of a really heavy news cycle. You’ve been out there covering some very intense stories. Tell us about the 10-year-old girl and…
Chambers: We had, yeah, the 10-year-old girl out in Northridge, the one that – there were two guys that were out doing what’s called a hot prowl, where they’re breaking into a home while the people are sleeping, which is dangerous enough – and for some reason, the one guy that went into the house decided he was going to turn it into a kidnapping. And so he grabbed the little girl, 10 years old, at knife point out of her bedroom, and brought her up to the car. Now, the way we understand it is that the guy who brought him the getaway car was surprised to see the little girl. He had no idea this was going to be a kidnapping. So what he does is drive them to what we think is an abandoned home nearby, and then he bails. He doesn’t want any part of it. He’s still getting charged with kidnapping because he moved her from spot to spot. Our guess is that he’ll roll over, testify against the other guy. But they still haven’t found him yet.
KHTS: You were out there in the field covering that for a few days. We saw you in numerous reports covering that as the story unfolded with more information.
Chambers: Yeah, it’s an obligation to go out into the field quite a bit. Last night I was in Thousand Oaks for the two lovebirds, 13 and 14 years old, that are suicidal, possibly suicidal. Normally we wouldn’t cover just a runaway, but because this one had that twist, that there was obviously something wrong, whether it was depression or whatever, and it was critical that they find these – they still haven’t found them at this point, but it’s critical that they find them as quickly as possible, because they’re not sure what’s going to happen.
Move to Santa Clarita
KHTS: Let’s get local for a minute. You’re a local resident. How long have you lived in Santa Clarita?
Chambers: Since ’92. When I came up here, I came here from Miami in ’92, stayed in North Hollywood with my brother-in-law for a short period of time, and then I was going out with real estate agents, trying to find a place. We looked at Calabasas and some of these others, and then – when I look back on it now, it’s funny now – the lady said, “There’s a new community. It’s pretty far out, and you’ve got to drive all the way up the 5.” The critical thing was she said it had great schools, and all three of my kids were young back then. So we took this drive up the 5 into Santa Clarita. The cows were still grazing along the 5 back in those days, and the mall had just opened. It was great, and I immediately liked the place, and you got so much for your money, which was critical as well. And so that was it. When I brought Susie and the kids out, they loved the place. All the kids went to all the public schools, and we’ve been out here enjoying it.
KHTS: Sounds good. You’ve gotten involved in the community in more direct ways, helping out with local nonprofits. Tell us a little bit about your activities.
Chambers: Well, that started up pretty quickly. Because the kids were in school, I started helping out at their schools, going in and helping read on this day and do the show-and-tell and Dad’s career and all that type of thing. And as I got to know the community more, I started meeting other people, and they would ask, and so [I] got involved with the Boys & Girls Club early on and have been emceeing their stuff for a long time. Carousel Ranch, did stuff with them for a while… It just was easy because people would come up and say, “Listen, can you help?” And it’s part of the community, so it was really kind of a no-brainer, you know? And then once you got in there and met the people that were involved, then it just became one of those things that would just do over and over and over again. Then you got to see how good it was getting, and you got to see the improvements, and it was nice. It was a nice feeling.
There were several factors that we came up here. One was because you got so much for your money, and that was incredible schools, were paramount for doing it. But also, driving up and down the 101, looking at places along there, and then having to put up with the traffic…
KHTS: The killer commute.
Chambers: That was crazy. So we figured that was not the place to go. And this quick process of elimination, this became the obvious choice.
Covering the Heroin and Drug Problem in the SCV
KHTS: Now, you cover issues pretty much over the hill, but thankfully you live in Santa Clarita and you have an awareness of what’s going on up here, probably maybe a little bit more than some of the other news anchors that are on L.A. stations. What do you think is the most pressing issue up here in Santa Clarita, from your standpoint as a reporter and as a resident?
Chambers: Well, right now, what’s kind of hitting everybody in the face is the heroin problem that you’ve got up here – that we have up here. I’ve done several stories on that. Then we tie it, of course, to the problems we’re having in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks as well. But after raising three kids – and I’m very close to my kids, and so we communicate on a lot of different things, and when they were in high school, we would talk about the problems that the kids were having in school. Even after that, I was completely caught off-guard as to how bad the heroin problem is. And then I was over at the Sheriff’s Station one time, and a mom, and father and a couple of their kids were coming in to claim the personal items of a girl who had just overdosed. Boy, when you see the looks on their faces, and you see the pain that they’re in, suddenly it becomes – it just kind of hits you right in the face, that this is much more than you thought there was.
KHTS: It’s not just your garden variety crime-based story.
Chambers: No. And it goes across all different types of the lines. It’s not just low-income folks, it’s not one part of town. It’s all over the Santa Clarita Valley. We’ve talked to a lot of people that are doing a lot of good things out here, but it continues to be a huge problem. When you’re losing 10, 12, 14 people a year because of something like that, you’ve got to start doing something.
KHTS: It’s alarming. The community’s pretty much up in arms about that, and organizations like ACTION Family Zone, the city and the sheriff [station], and the schools…
Chambers: They’re doing a lot. They’re trying what they can.
KHTS: … They’re trying to get together, to put their heads together to come up with a concerted effort, ’cause that’s really what it’s going to take.
Chambers: Well, and the drug problems have been around for years. I was… Back in high school in the ’60s, there were obviously drug problems back then, and in the ’70s. So it’s not one of those things that’s just going to go away. It’s just, the drug changes. The drug choice changes. And in this case – back in our day, heroin, I didn’t know anybody that was doing heroin. The junkie lying in the alley was the guy doing the heroin. Nowadays it’s so cheap, and the kids out here in this valley have money in their pockets and there’s a lot of peer pressure. So you’ve got this drug that’s floating around in circles you would not expect to find that drug.
Chambers’ Early Years: College, Air Force, EMT, TV
KHTS: Well, let’s make a hard segue here. Let’s jump back into your background. You’re originally from the Chicago area, right?
Chambers: Born and raised, yeah. Born there, and went into the military right out of high school, back in the early ’70s.
KHTS: And then you were in the military four years?
Chambers: Yeah. Actually, two in California. I was up in Merced, Calif. for two years at Castle Air Force Base up there, and then I was lucky enough to go to London, England for two years. That was nice.
KHTS: Nice, and that was during the Vietnam era.
Chambers: Yeah. I went in from ’72 to ’76. I was lucky that the draft was just kind of rolling up by the time that I got in, and my number would have been very high, so I wasn’t worried about that. And my brother had been [in], back in the ’60s, and I was one of those kids that really had no idea what the hell I wanted to do. I was still kind of very green and immature in high school, and he recommended I do something that could kind of give me some direction.
KHTS: What was that?
Chambers: Went into the Air Force. I was lucky enough to work in the hospital. And then I got a lot of great training. I was trained as a paramedic and a flight surgeon’s assistant. For me, it was terrific. That’s what I thought I would do when I got out in ’76. I was trained as an EMT and a paramedic, and I came back, and the EMTs were very popular in the States. Couldn’t get a job – I thought I’d walk right in someplace with my training, and it just wasn’t that way. So I took the G.I. Bill, went to college and started in junior college, actually, like we would have College of the Canyons here; a very similar situation back in the Chicago suburbs. So I went there, and from there went on to a four-year school, and one thing led to another.
KHTS: Sounds good. At what point did the name change happen?
Chambers: That was kind of funny. I was working in Harrisburg, Illinois, which was a tiny little town way down at the southern tip of Illinois, down where the Ohio River and Mississippi come together, and I’d been there about a year, maybe 13 months, and a buddy of mine that I’d been in college with had gone to Louisville, Kentucky, to a great station there, WAVE TV. And he wrote back, and he said, “Listen, there’s a guy leaving. Send a tape – you might be able to get on there.” And so I sent a tape, and it was three-quarter – remember those days? Sent one of those and got a response. The guy said, “Come on in.” So I interviewed. Everything went well, and they decided to hire me.
While I’m waiting for that transition period, the news director calls me and says, “Listen, what would you think about changing your name?” And I said, “Geez, I haven’t given it any thought.” My name is just three letters, it’s Irish-Dutch and it’s hard to pronounce. I said, “What do you think?” And they said, “Well, just think of something and then get back to us.”
So I walked around the station, like you would here at the radio station, looking at people, and (saw) Rick Johnson and Rick Michaels, and Rick – there was a guy named Greg Chambers sitting at the switcher in the control room, and as I walked past him, I looked at him and I thought, “Rick Chambers. That doesn’t sound too bad.” So I called the folks in Louisville and I said, “What do you think about Rick Chambers?” And they said, “Do you like it?” I said, “Eh, it’s OK.” “If it’s OK, that’s what it is.” It was that quick. And then it stuck. I’ve gotten used to it, obviously, over the years.
KHTS: Pronounce the real name.
Chambers: Gue (“Gyu”). Like “glue” without the L. But when you see it written down, very, very seldom will people get it correct. Louisville, Kentucky is kind of a WASP-y, Bible-belt type of place, and the guy there was thinking, most of these people here are not going to recognize how to pronounce that, so let’s make it something a little more easy.
KHTS: So you went from WASP-y Louisville down to [WSVN in] hell-raising Miami. What was that experience like?
Chambers: I got there right there in the ’80s, the mid- to late-’80s, when crack, cocaine…
KHTS: Drugs were everywhere.
Chambers: Yeah, it was unbelievable. The kids were all small – actually, I only had two of them. The third one was actually born in Miami. So I got there at a time when the city was really in turmoil. Politicians were getting ousted left and right, the corruption was skyrocketing, drugs were bad. South Beach, really, was not much of anything. It was kind of a slum. A lot of…
KHTS: It was an old Jewish ghetto, basically.
Chambers: Yep, back from when all the snowbirds [winter tourists from up North] would come down. So when I got there, there was very much a big change underway. The Mariel boatlifts had come [not] too long. Prior to that, they were still having the Cubans coming over. Haitians were floating in on rafts. It was kind of an unusual place. So, yeah, moving into there – but as a reporter, it was phenomenal. There was so much going on.
KHTS: Yeah, a lot of great stories.
Chambers: Terrific stories.
KHTS: And a lot of entertainment [was] going on down there. A lot of entertainers are based there that are pretty well-known, pretty famous.
Chambers: Yeah, over by the Fountainbleu Hotel and South Beach. Actually, while I was there, there was a lot of money starting to come from the L.A. industries – the film industries, the modeling industries – and they were really starting to pump a lot of money into South Beach. A lot of those hotels, little kind of boutique places, started to pop up. By the time I left in ’92, right before Hurricane Andrew, which was pretty exciting, things there were really starting to look nice, and of course, now, Miami’s one of the hotspots of the whole country.
KNBC Woos Chambers to Los Angeles
KHTS: So, KNBC wooed you away from Miami, out to the West Coast?
Chambers: Yeah. It was an unusual circumstance. I was competing against – I was working with an independent Fox station there. It had been NBC, and then changed over. It was a family-owned place, and they were kind of making it into a little mini-CNN, pumping a lot of money into it. They were sending us all over the place, and it was a lot of fun to work at.
And there was a lady over at the NBC affiliate who competed against us, who was hired here in Los Angeles. I got a call one day that said, “Listen, NBC’s taking me to Los Angeles. I was wondering if you wanted to go and anchor out there.” It caught me off-guard. We had never, my wife Susie and I, had never even really thought about coming to Los Angeles. We were pretty comfortable in Miami, it was a good place to work. And so we came out here and suddenly this whole door [opened]. It was something much more than I anticipated it would be, and the money was terrific, and it turned out to be a great move.
KHTS: Now, I read [on the Web] that it was half a million. Was that correct?
Chambers: When I first came here?
Chambers: No, no.
KHTS: That’s usually incorrect.
Chambers: Yeah, not typical of NBC. But it was a substantial increase over Miami. In fact, I think they tripled what I was making in Miami to come out here – which, at the time back in ’92, was great money. It’d be great money even right now. But what excited me more is when I got into the newsroom: the number of huge faces that you saw walking around the newsroom at that point, that was incredible. A lot of these people have gone on to network jobs and stuff. And then it was the final months of Johnny Carson, who I had grown up watching, and now I’m parking my car at the back of NBC, I’m walking up past people that are coming in for the final two or three months of his show, and so I was star-struck by all of that. It was just a great time to be here, although I got here… I started work at NBC on a Monday, and the riots broke out on Wednesday, so that was…
There’s a Riot Going On
KHTS: And that was my next question. Your first assignment was probably one of the ones that introduced you, shall we say, to the L.A. market in a big way.
Chambers: Well, yeah. I think it made my career – it certainly was key at moving my career here in Los Angeles. Nobody had even seen my face, heard my name, prior to that Wednesday evening.
KHTS: Tell me what happened when the assignment desk gave you the assignment and said, “Get down there and…”
Chambers: It wasn’t even that. I had been doing the paperwork on Monday and Tuesday, like you do when you go to a new place, and on Wednesday they said, “OK, we’re going to put you with a crew, and you go out and watch how they do the stuff in the live trucks, so you can kind of get a feel for how we do things here.” Great. We went out on this truck that morning, everybody knew the verdict was going to come down or could be coming down…
KHTS: The Rodney King verdict.
Chambers: Rodney King – and they sent me to Foothill, to the Foothill Division where he was arrested. And we were out there, and I’m just watching the live crew, and they’re doing their stuff, and they’re putting up the mast and the satellite uplink. I was actually leaning against one of the black and white squad cars, listening to the verdict with the cops. And as soon as the verdict came down, you could see that the cops knew that something was going to happen.
KHTS: Stuff was going to hit the fan.
Chambers: They pulled away, and I’m there, and I’m still naive as to exactly what all is going on here, because I hadn’t been following as closely, obviously, as people here in town had. And then suddenly, crowds started to gather on the sidewalk. They moved a lot of police officers with their helmets and batons and shields and stuff in front of the police station. So we were all lined up on the yellow stripe going down the middle of the boulevard there, and we had the cameras up. I was still not expecting to be going on the air.
As the crowds got bigger and bigger and bigger, suddenly there was a shot fired from the crowd, and everybody hit the ground, and the guy that had fired the shot ran, so everybody knew who that was. Well, the cops on the side of the street ran – they were following him. The cameras went off the tripods, we were following them. So suddenly the Foothill was one of the initial places…
KHTS: One of the flash points…
Chambers: … and then we started hearing about what was happening in Florence and Normandie, and other places around town, and suddenly it became, “Anybody that can talk, get on camera.” So I got thrown, basically, into the fray. And it’s one of those things where you have the start of an 18-hour shift and you’re on almost constantly. It was amazing.
KHTS: Well, you rocked that.
From KNBC to KCOP to KCBS/KCAL to KTLA
KHTS: I’m going to scope the next several years pretty tightly. After KNBC was Channel 13 for a bit.
Chambers: That was actually a nice opportunity. I had never actually watched Channel 13, didn’t even know what kind of news that they did, but suddenly they had new management come in. They were going to revamp the whole place. Redid the whole newsroom, the studio, brought in a top-to-bottom whole management team, and asked me if I’d like to come over with Lauren Sanchez, who became Fox Entertainment and that type of thing, and the two of us worked together.
We had a great team on TV and did very well. The numbers were great, we won some of the first Emmys that station had ever won for news, and we did a lot of things. It was great the way they were putting it all together, and everybody was very excited, and then about 20 months into the three-year contract, Fox bought the place. It immediately went into the toilet.
KHTS: Gotcha. Then the next one after that was KCAL and KCBS, 2003.
Chambers: Yeah. Actually, I had been sick for a while and had ulcerative colitis, and had my plumbing all rearranged and a lot of it yanked out, and was in bad shape. I was off the air for about 10 months and a lot of people thought that I had cancer. I lost 50-60 pounds, I looked terrible. Once I was able to kind of regain my strength, it was nice enough for some of the old people that I had known for years that were at CBS/KCAL, [they called] up one day and said, “Listen, are you feeling well? Are you ready to go back to work?” Some of the big fires, back in the… I can’t remember what year it was, but it was right around 2001, something like that – and there were big fires burning. (They) said, “You want to come back and go out and cover some of the fires for us?” And that is what opened the door. Got into CBS/KCAL and those both were terrific.
KHTS: And how did you connect with KTLA?
Chambers: Right at the end of 2008 and 2009, when the economy was tanking, and everybody was laying off, back in those days the television stations [were] all dependent — probably 25 or 30 percent of the revenue was on car dealerships. And the car dealerships started folding one after another, and so the stations were losing a tremendous amount of revenue, and everybody coming up to contract, so was getting laid off. CBS/KCAL laid off about 20, 25 of us, and then the next wave was all the department heads, and after that was the whole sales staff. It was a bloodletting all around town at all the different stations. So, it wasn’t one of those situations where you could leave CBS/KCAL and call somebody else because they were going through the same thing. Nobody was hiring.
So, for 20 months I was off television doing that type of thing [news], and instead started doing voice-over work and commercial work, and started doing some of the movie stuff. But it was a rough time, being laid off and not knowing when you’re getting back. For a while, I never thought I would get back in the news. It was just so tough for the first year and a half or two years. I thought, “Well, maybe this is that.” And I kept hearing – in fact, I got sick of people saying, “You’ve got to reinvent yourself.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard that phrase. I would start doing things and try other opportunities, and it just wasn’t something that I was thrilled with doing. And so I would do it for as long as we had to do it, and then I’d keep looking.
Then one day, out of the blue, one of the guys from CBS/KCAL was now working at KTLA. He’s my boss now. And one of the executive producers called up and said, “Listen, we know that you’re not back on the air yet, but Jason, the news director, wants to know if you’d like to come to KTLA.” I was completely shocked. This was like, Tuesday. I said, “What are you thinking?” And they said, “Well, can you start Thursday night?” I said, “Sure, I’ll be there.” And, yeah.
KHTS: That’s a heck of a run in the No. 2 media market to last 20 years-plus.
Chambers: Yeah, I’ve been lucky. I’ve been lucky, and I’ve obviously been working hard, and I like to think I’ve been out there busting my ass and doing things the way they should be done. But at the same time, I’ve gotten some lucky breaks here and there, just being available at certain times when people needed certain things. It’s a combination of things, but yeah, it’s been a good run.
How a TV News Pro Gathers and Reports a Story
KHTS: You mentioned working hard. That brings me to my next question: your process. When I first met you, you were covering the “Teens Tell It Like It Is” anti-drug forum, and I accosted you in your truck outside as you were just about to file your report, and you gave me a great 45-second bit for my story, which was really cool.
But I’m just curious about your process, and maybe you could give us a rundown of what happens after you get an assignment. We got a taste of it with the riot story. When you get an assignment, what’s the process in actually going and doing the interview, gathering the information, filing the story?
Chambers: As soon as you get to the station, you’ve got a few minutes to kind of get your act together and check maybe a couple sources that you’ve been working your stories at have been in the news lately just to kind of update things.
And then it’s a meeting. Everybody that’s been working that day, the shooters, the reporters, the producers, everybody meets in the conference room. You start throwing ideas around as to who’s going to do what. There’s obviously several big stories that have been working all day. Once you get your assignment, then they select a photographer that’s going to work with you. You hook up with that photographer, you decide, “OK, here’s what we’re doing, this is the final [B-roll or background] video we need to take with us from the library, here’s where we’re going. I’ll make a couple of calls trying to set up interviews for us.” If it’s a story that’s breaking, you try to get out the door as quickly as you possibly can. If it’s something else where you’ve got some time, you kind of get all your ducks in a row; you know you’re going to need several pictures, you’re going to need some addresses, some phone numbers.
And then once you get out the door, you’re on your own. I’ll call back and forth to the desk occasionally – can they run this license plate, can they do this, can they do that. But other than that, you’re out there getting a story, and then it’s a matter of making contact with the people that you think are involved with the story, trying to sort through all the extraneous stuff, and just get down to the meat and potatoes of the whole thing.
Then it’s just a matter of picking out what you think has the most compelling sound, the most compelling pictures, writing a script that kind of tells the story, you kind of connect the dots of the sound that you’ve already heard, and then it’s putting it together. Almost every night, it’s got to be less than two minutes. You seldom get more than two minutes to tell the story. So, you really have to think quickly on your feet and put all this together. We have deadlines like you do, we’ve got to be on the air at certain times, and if you’re not there, you’ve got black holes in the newscast and people are going to get pissed.
KHTS: You’re looking to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Chambers: Right, just like any story you would tell somebody sitting across the coffee table or the kitchen table. You start the story, you give them all the stuff in the middle, and somehow you close it up, whether it’s good or bad. It’s the same way on television, but you just have to – it’s obviously a visual medium, so you’ve got to make sure that your pictures are matching what you’re saying and that the sound makes sense, and that everything just kind of flows together, and at the end of the two minutes or minute forty-five, you can sit back and think, “OK, that was understandable. Now I know what happened.” Probably you do.
KHTS: And then what happens when you go back to the newsroom?
Chambers: Well…Like, last night, I was in Thousand Oaks doing the live shot, and got that done, and we had one of the dog handlers meet us up in Thousand Oaks so we had that part of the story, and had it all come together well. And then when we got done, we head back to the station and put what we shot – we give it to the people at the desk, so the next crew coming in, if they’re going to pick up that story, they’ve got things to work with. You get immediate feedback when you get back. Either your stuff looks great, nobody else had what you had, or somebody’s asking you, “Uh, listen, the folks on Channel 7 or NBC had X, Y and Z. Why didn’t you have X, Y and Z?” So you know immediately whether your work that day was good or it was marginal or it was less than what it should’ve been.
A Little Acting on the Side
KHTS: You spoke a few minutes ago about the hiatus when you were between jobs, basically, and were doing voice-overs and acting and stuff. I wanted to ask about a couple of those projects. There’s one called “Legit.”
Chambers: “Legit,” yeah. It’s a funny show.
KHTS: The episode’s titled “Bag Lady.” According to IMDB, it aired in March 2013 and your character was Mitch.
Chambers: It’s very funny. It’s a TV series, and when the director and the producer came to me, they said, “Listen, we’re doing a show, and you’re going to be anchoring a morning news very similar to the happy talk craziness that we see in Los Angeles on some of the morning shows. It’s going to be playing in the background while the main characters of the show are doing their thing here, and then we’re going to pop you on the screen. So, we want you just to ad-lib.”
There were no lines. We were just in there ad-libbing, and I had a lady working with me as my co-anchor on the set who was very funny, and so it was a chance just to get in there and do something I had never done before. When we got done – and it did air. I think I was on the screen for probably about eight or nine seconds, it wasn’t much. But it was a lot of fun working with these people, and it’s a stand-up comedy…the show is very well done, but it’s kind of a raw type of comedy, probably not suitable for [everybody], but it was one of those things where I was glad I got a chance to do it, and they said we’ll probably do more. That was fun.
KHTS: That’s cool. Some of the roles that you’ve played have not been as news anchor, not playing yourself.
Chambers: Which is very seldom. There was a comedy – and actually, I saw it was advertised not too long ago – that we did about three years ago where I played the detective. That’s, I guess, coming out pretty soon.
KHTS: Is that “Run This Town”? Agent Logan?
Chambers: No. That’s where I played a federal agent. That was more of a Web series. Again, a lot of these things are very creative people trying to making a mark for themselves in their field, and they’re doing these things on a shoestring. Both of those that you just mentioned were when I was just starting to get into this type of thing, and I was looking for anything out there that would help me kind of get into this field. Both of those were done by people that were terrific to me and helped me a lot.
KHTS: According IMDB, there’s another airing coming up, an episode of “The Mentalist.” It’s going to be airing on [CBS on Sunday, April 14].
Chambers: I’ve done those and “Rizzoli & Isles,” as well as a detective show. And, again, it’s fun to do, but at the same time the people that are part of these shows are very nice to me, and they really help me a lot, too. And then I’ve been lucky enough to work with some good directors – Tony Scott before he died, when we did the train movie, “Unstoppable” . That was fun. I’d never met him before. He was a real nice guy and very nice to me. And then more recently working with the folks with the big White House movie, about the terrorist taking over the White House.
KHTS: Yeah. What was your role in that one?
Chambers: I was, again, the news guy. Usually, it’s those types of parts that I end up. That’s in my wheelhouse, so it’s nice to go in and do those types of things. And it’s a kick for me because I get to see how it all works behind the scenes.
KHTS: You’re referencing “Olympus Has Fallen.”
Chambers: “Olympus Has Fallen.” It’s out now.
KHTS: It’s kind of interesting, because you’re carrying on a sort of a tradition in not just KTLA folks like Stan Chambers, and Clete Roberts from Channel 2 and Jerry Dunphy from Channel 7 – they would be in movies all the time, and they would be the go-to people for the movie business if they needed a TV anchor in one of their scenes or something. So, you’re kind of carrying that torch.
Chambers: Yeah, and that’s nice – it’s one of those things where, when I first got out here, and even when I was in Miami, I would see some of these – when I got here, people would say, “Oh, that’s Stu [Nahan]. He’s done the ‘Rocky’ movies,” or whatever. But it never dawned on me that that would be something that I would be able to get into. Now that I have, it’s a lot of fun. In fact, I’m shooting another one at the end of the month. It’s called “The Incident.”
KHTS: “The Incident.” What’s that about?
Chambers: Heaven’s Gate’s mass suicides down in San Diego.Again, I’m the news guy. [laughs].
Comfortable at Home in Santa Clarita
KHTS: Now, any parting shots? Anything that you’d like to tell the community about yourself that we haven’t covered?
Chambers: I’ve been out here long enough, and I’ve run into so many people that I think most people know the backstory. It’s always one of the things that I like about living out here is that – you know what, in fact, I was at the Albertsons over on Bouquet just a short time ago, just picking up some stuff, and saw people and said hi to people. It’s nice that people out here just kind of know what you’re doing and they know who you are, and they just kind of respect your space, and it’s not a big deal to anybody. You see people in restaurants, and everybody says “Hi,” so it makes you feel good. It makes you feel as if people are watching and they like what they see, or at least they’re telling you they like what they see, and you hope that’s true. But that’s why it’s one of the nice things about living out here. It’s that it’s not a big deal. You know what I mean? You’re just a guy that does the news.
KHTS: It’s also cool that you’re so accessible, because there are a lot of people on a star trip, let’s face it, and you’re not, as far as we can tell.
Chambers: [laughs] Yeah, the prima donna. To me, it’s always been kind of a nice experience, and once you get off, then you can go and talk to the kids, or you go and speak at the high schools or at this event. Just to have that interaction with the people on the streets is nice, and everybody here treats you nicely too, which is great.
KHTS: Well, special thanks to our guest Rick Chambers for being with us for a “Santa Clarita Celebrity Q&A” on your Hometown Station AM 1220 KHTS.
Chambers: Thank you.
KHTS: I’m Stephen K. Peeples, and we’ll see you next time.
• Article Source: Santa Clarita News